Thursday, April 29, 2010

Where Did the Love Go?

(Pictures: Leslie, the Chow and Benji, the Cocker Spaniel. Both dogs discarded at the pound during the sunset days of their lives. -- Where did the love go -- if indeed it ever existed for these dogs?)
I have finally entered the 21st century -- and of course, wonder why I didn't get high speed Internet years ago?

It reminds of words from an old Alanis Morrisette song: "Good advice that you just didn't take" (from the song, "Ironic."). Yes, everyone was telling me to do this, but my attitude was, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

It took more than a month of really shoddy phone service to finally get me to make the switch from dial-up to Broadband.

Unfortunately, I've spent the last hour or so, scouting funny animal videos on YouTube.

Probably, not a real constructive use of one's time, but a lot of laughs nonetheless.

One of the funniest videos was this one:

Perhaps I have a warped sense of humor. But, a swan attacking and chasing a blushing bride somehow cracked me up. -- Perhaps I have been in animal work too long.

In other news, we have new rescues for the week.

I am in fact, picking up two dogs from Animal Control later today.

One is an older (ten years) Chow named, "Less" (strange name for a girl) who apparently was dumped off at the pound as a "stray."

Older Chows who have been in a home for many years tend to shut down when they arrive at animal shelters and (let's call her) Leslie is no different. Apparently, Leslie has Arthritis and between the pain of that and the shut down stuff associated with the breed, volunteers had a hard time getting her to walk.

But, Leslie is a lucky dog.

My friend and long-time Chow lover, Marcia from Pennsylvania has offered to take Leslie.

Marcia now has a small pack of older (and all very sweet) Chows whose otherwise certain destiny at the pound was death.

One is deaf. Another is already on meds for Arthritis. But, all are doing well and are happy and secure in their lovely, country home.

Thank God for people like Marcia. -- Those merciful souls willing to take the older, discarded dogs (of whatever breed) to make the latter years of the animals' lives comfortable, secure and happy.

It is so sad to see senior cats and dogs who have been in a home for many years suddenly dumped in a pound.

I believe the last obligation we have to our pets is to see to it that they leave this world feeling loved and valued.

Abandonment should not be their last memory and treatment from humans.

The other dog we are picking up tomorrow is a senior, loving Cocker Spaniel named, "Benji" whose former family decided that after nine years, they suddenly had "no time" for him.

Considering that senior animals are usually less rambunctious than puppies and don't require the same exercise "time" one would think caring for them would be easier.

But, its amazing how many people discard pet cats and dogs that they have had for many years.

What is it that breaks the "bond" they supposedly once had with the animals?

Where did the love go -- if indeed it ever was there in the first place?

Yesterday, a man called seeking to "put up for adoption" the family's ten-year-old Boxer/Pug mix. The reason the man gave was that his wife had a baby a few months ago and it was too much "trouble" to care for the baby and also walk the dog.

I suggested that he hire a dog walker to walk the dog during the daytime and that he take over the duty at night.

"Its hard right now," I said. "But, once the child starts walking, things will be easier."

But, I should have asked, "Where did the love go for your animal?"

Had I done that, he surely would have hung-up.

How sad that we can never really say -- or ask, what we are really thinking.

But, in the meantime, I am laughing hysterically at a video showing a swan chasing and nipping at the dress of a newly married bride.

Analyze that, Mr. Freud. -- PCA


Monday, April 26, 2010

Don't Tell Leno!

(Picture Left: "The light at the end of the bridge" really an oncoming car. -- In this case, a police car patrolling Central Park at night.)

"A new study indicates that only 7% of Internet users are still on dial-up. We call them Grandmothers!"

The above was a joke by Jay Leno a couple of weeks ago.

I am not yet a Grandmother, but I am one of the pathetic "7%" still on dial-up. (And if you think that is bad, I still have a Walkman and a tape deck -- both of which I regularly use!)

OK, so some people are a bit slow to "get with the program" or catch up to the times.

But, all that is about to change.

I have an appointment this week to finally get the phone, Internet and TV all on the cable service.

But, it is not a change I made lightly or (certainly) in haste.

On the contrary. I was more or less forced to.

More than a month ago, I was without any phone (or Internet) service for a full week.

I could then appreciate the disadvantages of being on "dial up." -- If the phone went out, so did all online activity. -- I had hundreds of backed up emails!

The Verizon guys finally showed up, put some lines together in the basement and voila, I was back in business!

Or, so I thought.....

Reality is, however, that even though I got a dial tone back and could once again receive and make calls, at least half the time those calls were impeded by loud static and squeaking (like someone strangling a cat!) on the line. What's more, my Internet service was tremendously slowed down to the point, I could barely get through the daily emails (let alone write daily blog entries.)

The static and squeaking wasn't however, constant. In fact, it magically cleared up the next two times Verizon repair showed up!

"The line is fine!" I was told. "Clear as a bell!"

Almost as soon as the Verizon guy left, the problem returned.

So, I finally got sick of the disruptions, squeaking, squealing, and computer freezes. And I was especially sick of having to call Telephone Repair!

"We'll see if we can get a technician over."

"But, the problem isn't my phone or the lines in my apartment or building! I put in a different phone and still have the problem! What's more, if it was the equipment here, why would it work sometimes and not others?"

I was getting nowhere.

Maybe Telephone Repair figured I was some nut who just liked to bitch or had some neurotic need for "attention" (though they could hear the static and squeaking on the line).

I finally called Time Warner and arranged for everything to go on the cable line.

By the end of the week, I should finally have a modem (whatever that is), be on high speed Internet and into the 21st Century!

But, I will still have my tape deck and Walkman. -- Don't want to rush things, after all.

Just don't tell Jay Leno. -- PCA


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"All The News (or Press Release) That's Fit to Print?"

(Picture Left: "Yogi" -- Rescued from slated death at the pound. The question to ask: "Is is more comforting to a cat or dog about to die (or to us) to think s/he is not dying for 'population control?"' According to a recent article in the NY Times, the answer to that question is "yes." Better for animals to get sick in the shelter and die for Kennel Cough, then for us to admit that we don't have the homes for all of them -- or, that we simply don't have enough shelters.)

"All the News That's Fit to Print" is the logo for the New York Times.

But, sometimes the Times simply runs with straight press releases from press conferences with little if any research, investigation or even question.

Such is seemingly the case with an article in the Times from last week.

The article, entitled, "Percentage of Animals Put to Death Reaches Low" published on April 12th represents sugar-coated spin at its very worst.

"There's never been a better time to be a dog in New York City!" proclaimed Mayor Michael Bloomberg according to the article.

Bloomberg (and the New York Times) is apparently unaware of the extremely negative impacts of a new rule in City Housing making it very difficult for people to have dogs over 30 lbs. Since the ban went into effect last year, hundreds of dogs (mostly Pitbulls) have been abandoned to Animal Control with the reason, "NYCHA Ban." Many of these Pitbulls (mostly family pets) are later destroyed, as they are so overpopulated and generally hard to place.

While true that the number of animals killed in city shelters has been slowly declining for decades, this is primarily due to the various programs providing low cost spay/neuter, as well as a law passed a few years ago, requiring that all city animal shelters neuter animals before adoption. Obviously, lower breeding rates result in fewer animals coming into shelters and fewer killed.

Moreover, the efforts of more than a hundred rescue groups that have sprung up over the years results in more animals going out to rescue than are actually adopted out or killed. Of course, as said in this blog many times, this puts enormous pressure on the rescue community and can often mean too many animals languishing too long in boarding facilities and/or overburdened, overcrowded fosters.

Steve Gruber, "a spokesman for the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals" is quoted as saying, "The economic downturn may have contributed to the rise in adoptions. In troubled times, people look to pets for comfort."

One has to wonder if this gentleman ever looks at the primary reasons animals are dumped at shelters, among them, "can't afford," "cost," "lost home," and "housing won't allow" rank among the very highest in this economic climate. That does not even take into account the thousands of owned cats and dogs falsely tuned into shelters as "strays" because the people don't want to pay a modest "Owner Surrender Fee." Mr. Gruber goes on to add, "Tough economic times also may have made people more inclined to adopt a free pet from a shelter than to buy one from a breeder."

"Free pet?" This might explain why rescue groups are constantly asked the question, "Do we have to pay anything to adopt a pet?" -- This, after we have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars to secure vet care for rescued animals or pay boarding fees.

No animal should be given away "free" from rescues or shelters (even if we didn't have vet or boarding bills to pay.) One has to be very concerned about animals going out as potential "mousers" or worse, Pitbull bait. At the very least, most people tend not to value what they get for "free." -- Easy come, easy go. The first time that cat or dog runs into any "cost" (such as needing veterinary attention), the people will find it easier to simply dump the pet in the street or a shelter. "Why should I have to pay?" they ask. "It's only an animal!"

But, the very worst example of "spin" in an article that was full of it, was when Mr. Gruber of the Alliance apparently says, " (We are) on target for a “no-kill New York” in 2015, not meaning that there will be no animals put to death, but that euthanasia will not be used as a measure for population control."

What in God's name does THAT mean?

We are either killing animals or we aren't.

Regardless of the "reason" one is supplying for the regular killings of dozens of animals a day, the animals still die. -- We cannot truthfully call that, "No kill!"

After reading this revolting heap of spin, one has to be very skeptical of the stuff coming out of the mouths of various political and other "leaders." That of course, has been true for a long time.

But, what's really troubling is that we also have to be skeptical of believing the stuff on the pages of the newspaper that brags it only publishes "All the news that's fit to print."

What happened to journalistic integrity?

What happened to investigation and presenting BOTH or all sides of an issue?

What happened to simple, QUESTION -- or even common sense? -- PCA


Friday, April 16, 2010

Blue News

(Picture Left: "Dolce" -- Rescued almost two years ago, this playful, affectionate and outgoing cat has yet to find adoptive home. -- Harsh world for cats, these days.)

There was a time only a few years ago, when we used to average between 25 and 35 incoming phone calls a day.

While a fair amount of those calls were to give up animals or requests for help in placing strays, at least half would be adoption inquiries.

For a very long time, answering phones, was for me, a (more than) full-time job. It meant we were able to adopt out many animals and in turn, rescue many.

But, these days, I have a lot of free time for discovering the wonders of Central Park with my dogs and taking pictures.

That is because the number of incoming calls on a daily basis has dramatically dropped to less than ten or even five a day. -- This despite constant advertising of our pets for adoption on numerous adoption web sites, Facebook and even Craig's List.

It is always the dream of those in animal rescue or sheltering work, that we would one day, "be put out of business" because there are so few animals who need to be rescued or found new homes.

But, that is like dreaming that one day police would no longer be needed because there are no longer crimes.

Unfortunately, the lack of calls coming into a rescue and adoption organization is not sign of anything positive.

It means we are having a much tougher time finding the homes for animals already rescued and languishing either in boarding or foster homes. It means we are able to rescue far fewer dogs and cats than in the past.

While continuing to rescue and place some dogs, we have basically been "out" of cat rescue and placement for the past two years (with the exceptions of one or two cats per year.)

A number of cats rescued several years ago are still with me. I have long since given up that they will ever be adopted. -- I just know I cannot take in any more.

Over the past year, my personal and major "cat rescue" efforts have been directed towards trapping, neutering and releasing of the feral cats in the yards and alleys in back of my apartment building.

I can attest to the fact that, "trap, neuter and return" is definitely the proper and responsible thing to do for most feral cats (provided the environment is safe and there are regular feeders). The cats do very well. They are happy, healthy and thriving. Neutering keeps the cat populations in check and the neighbors happy. Cats meanwhile, keep rodent populations from taking over a community. There is, in fact, no better "deterrent" against rats and mice, than their natural predators, cats. Rats and mice are too smart to hang around areas where there are cats.

Sadly, "News" stories over the past week or so, do not reflect this new awakening, responsibility or respect for feral cats. On the contrary, they reflect the exact opposite.

One story reported on the local evening news described "Stray cats taking over a Queens housing project!" City building owners took to sealing up certain parts of the buildings which, according to the ASPCA would trap or separate possible Mom cats from their litters. Meanwhile, one woman resident of the buildings was spending "$150.00" a week to feed the many reproducing cats. At the end of the report, it was stated that the "City is going to work with Animal Care and Control to pick up the cats."

That means virtually all of the cats will be killed in city pounds as feral cats are not socialized enough for rescue and possible placement.

Meanwhile, on another network in the same week, it was reported that the "Brighton Beach area in Brooklyn is being taken over by rats!"

Years ago, Brighton Beach used to be teaming with stray and feral cats!

What happened to all the cats?

Presuming most or all were eventually picked up by Animal Control and killed, then it is no small wonder, the rats would eventually take over the areas vacated by the cats.

Should the city go forward with its "plan" to capture and send all the Queens project cats to the AC&C, for sure, we will soon see a story on the evening News: "Queens Housing Project Taken Over By Rats!"

Yes, it is frustrating being in animal rescue and placement these days.

Of the few calls we get, most are to give up animals, rather than adopt.

And even the evening news brings little if anything at all, to feel good about. -- PCA


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pause for Hope

(Picture Left: Taco (right) with his new found family and friend.)

During what seems a long period where there hasn't been a whole lot to cheer or feel optimistic about in terms of real progress for animals, there are those instances that give one pause for hope.

One of those is the story of Taco, a Chow Chow we recently adopted out.

Taco might actually be typical of many dogs today. As a tiny puppy, he was shipped from a puppy mill to a pet store. He was purchased at 8-weeks of age by a young married couple, who, though well intentioned, didn't seem to know a whole lot about raising and properly socializing young puppies -- especially those bought from a pet shop -- i.e. "puppy mill dogs."

The couple fed and walked, Taco. They even did the responsible thing by having the dog neutered at a young age. But, they neglected to adequately socialize the growing puppy with strangers, kids and other dogs.

Moreover, there apparently seemed some conflict between the husband and wife over the dog.

Over time, Taco seemed to become more the husband's dog than the family pet. It was the husband who walked Taco, fed him and provided for almost all of the dog's needs.

Eventually, this imbalance or "conflict" escalated intp some kind of incident between the wife and the dog. This, in turn, resulted in an, "It's me or the dog" ultimatum to the husband, and Taco found himself abandoned to Animal Control as a "DOH" (Department of Health) case."

It's not clear exactly what that incident was.

Shortly before deciding to rescue Taco from certain euthanasia at the pound, I had opportunity to speak with the husband.

But, communication was difficult due to the man having a very heavy Spanish accent as English was not his natural language.

What I learned was that apparently the couple had come into the apartment from outside on a very cold day. There was a knock at the door and when Taco barked and rushed towards the door, the wife grabbed at his collar from behind and the dog whipped around and "nipped" her.

The man speculated that due to the wife wearing a brand new jacket, the dog might not have immediately recognized her and simply reacted to being grabbed from behind.

Its hard to know if that is the actual case or if the fact that Chows generally don't see well to begin with might have resulted in Taco's mistaken action.

The skin on the wife's arm was not broken (probably because of the jacket) and she was not injured. But, the next day she insisted on bringing Taco to the AC&C.

Despite all this, the husband repeatedly swore to me that, "Taco ees a very, very good dog!! I never give him up, but, you know, the wife......" and his voice trailed off. He further told me that Taco was good with the couple's cat, but very "scared" around other dogs.

Although any kind of biting or "nipping" incident is very concerning to a rescue group when considering whether or not to "pull" a dog from a euthanizing shelter, the man's pleadings and repeated assurances that Taco "ees a very, very good dog" finally won me over.

But, Taco wasn't a dog I could immediately hope to adopt out or send to a foster home.

Instead, I sent Taco to Eddie, a very respected and reputable trainer and dog lover in New Jersey who also runs a boarding kennel.

I needed for Taco to become better socialized and more comfortable, both, around unfamiliar people and other dogs.

At first Taco was very nervous and guarded when first arriving to Eddie. "I'm going to give him a few days to settle in," Eddie told me.

But, after a couple of weeks, Ed's reports to me on Taco became much more positive.

"Taco's a good dog," Ed said. "He doesn't seem to have major issues. As long as people go slowly with him, he should do fine in a responsible, adoptive home."

Taco actually stayed with Ed for almost two months.

And then, two weeks ago, I finally received a call from people who seemed a very good adoption prospect for Taco.

"Chris" and his wife already have a cat and another Chow mix (spayed) female dog.

A few months ago, they lost their senior male Chow to cancer.

I told Chris, Taco's entire story, including the conflict (between husband and wife) and incident in the former home. I stressed to Chris that if adopting Taco, he and his wife would have to go very slowly with the dog at first. "Give him time to gain trust and settle in. Don't throw too much at the dog in the beginning."

Chris and his wife did in fact, adopt Taco a few days later.

As expected (and warned) the first few days were, nevertheless, a bit hairy.

Chris made the mistake of attempting to clean Taco's paws when they immediately brought the dog home. -- Taco did not react well to that.

Taco was also somewhat wild on the leash -- also to be expected from a dog just arriving to the busy streets of Manhattan.

But, in other ways, things went surprisingly smoothly. The two dogs seemed to work out their relationship without any major conflicts and Taco was OK with the cat. Most importantly, Taco seemed reasonably comfortable around Chris' wife.

There have been a few conversations with Chris, mostly to give pointers and advice getting through these first few difficult weeks with a new dog -- especially, a Chow. I warned Chris to be cognizant of Chow's generally poor vision and to always let the dog see what one is about to do.

But, two weeks later, the news is now so much more encouraging!

A new harness for Taco has made it much easier to walk him. And yesterday, I received the above lovely picture in my emails.

Taco does not look like the same scared, insecure and depressed dog from his earlier shelter pictures.

He looks confident and most of all, happy.

Though I often bemoan the avalanche of "grim and despairing" emails and alerts everyday, once in a while something really nice comes in.

The picture and latest update on Taco, truly gives one, pause (or "paws) for hope. ;) -- PCA


Sunday, April 11, 2010

For the Birds (We All Suposedly "Know?")

(Pictures: Ducks and Geese sharing tidbits on frozen ice over the winter. A mating pair of ducks at Harlem Meer. Picture taken yesterday. The two swans and three Peking ducks at Harlem Meer. The white ducks showed up last summer and are speculated to be "escapees" from a nearby "live poultry market." -- What we can truthfully call, "lucky ducks!")

One of the frustrating things about wildlife TV programming, as well as books and even Internet information, is that while one can learn about all types of "exotic" species all over the world, from insects, to fish and reptiles to predators to so-called, "vermin," it seems a great deal harder to learn anything at all about the local animals who, in many cases, live in our own back yard.

Case in point: A couple of months ago, I went to Barnes & Noble seeking to pick up a book about ducks and/or other native birds.

I could not find anything of interest or substance. Yes, there were books about different types of ducks and where to find them -- stuff that might be of interest to hunters, but absolutely nothing about the way ducks actually live and survive. I wonder about ducks mating and migratory habits. I wonder about their natural life spans and eating preferences. I even wonder about their personalities. Can or do ducks ever make good pets?

The same could be said of other local birds that we see and take for granted everyday, such as sparrows, pigeons, Canadian geese, robins and even Swans.

A few weeks ago, I attended a very interesting lecture held at the North Meadow Recreation Center in Central Park about coyotes.

The lecture was fascinating with all kinds of slides, pictures and information about the way coyotes, live, survive, mate and raise their young.

But, why not lectures about ducks, sparrows, geese or pigeons?

Is it because these animals are so abundant in our environment that we totally take them for granted and think we know all there is to know about them?

I feel I "know" almost nothing about the birds I actually live with in New York City.

But, I hope I have learned some things simply by observing and taking pictures of Central Park wildlife, particularly the birds, over the past year or so.

I've learned for example, that waterfowl are very different over the harsh months of the winter, than they are in the spring and summer.

During the winter, the geese, seagulls, ducks and swans will seek out those bodies of water that are not yet frozen over and peacefully share what resources there are in order to survive. It is not at all unusual to see ducks, geese, gulls and swans all huddled together on patches of ice, equally sharing surrounding water. It is rare to see any squabbles during the winter. Apparently, the birds need to reserve their energies to try and keep warm, get enough to eat and just survive. (During this past winter, most of the birds huddled on the Reservoir or the duck pond at Harlem Meer. These were the two bodies of water that did not entirely freeze over, as other ponds in Central Park or the lakes did.)

But, come the first days of spring, everything changes!

For one matter, most of the gulls, geese and ducks are gone. One supposes they have taken off for quieter and less crowded places in order to raise their young.

Those ducks and geese who remained however, suddenly took to much more ornery behavior -- pecking, squabbling and sometimes even chasing off a smaller or weaker bird.

I imagine these are the beginnings of the pairing and mating rituals. The same birds who were so peacefully sharing available resources over the winter, were suddenly at each other's beaks and tails! Canadian geese would suddenly chase off ducks. The male swan at Harlem Meer is seemingly hassling everything (especially dogs!) and even the ducks themselves engaged in quite a bit of "hen pecking and feather rustling" behavior.

Now however, matters are once again, more peaceful as most of the remaining ducks and geese have seemingly "paired off" with chosen mates and I wonder now, if and when we might expect to see the offspring of some of these pairings in Central Park?

A friend has suggested that most of the ducks and geese who remained behind from the larger migratory flocks are probably "too old or too young" to breed.

I don't know if that is true. -- Only time will tell.

I just wish there was more information about the animals who actually live with us and who apparently those in the book and TV worlds assume we have no interest in learning about.

Why is that?

For now though, to enjoy observing and photographing the birds, learning what I can about them and posting some of the pictures to

Hopefully, pictures tell a story. -- PCA

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why Not? (Reply)

(Pictures: "Jada" -- Former owners had foresight and responsibility to tend to dog's grooming and other needs BEFORE surrendering her to shelter. This resulted in rescue and faily quick and appropriate placement for Jada. -- A happy ending, thanks in some part to former and caring owners.)
Shadowlight writes:Just wanted to add--it also seems nutrition and other conditions, or the lack thereof, can also drastically change a pet's appearance and personality. Simba looks and acts completely different from the massively shedding dull-furred, obese lump he was when I first saw him. I don't get the sense animals who get dumped at shelters have had a very pleasant background, which often makes them arrive in pretty bad shape. Which can also lead to a pet being misrepresented, although it does seem in your particular case, the negligence was just as much the fault of the shelter's...

Reply: You make an excellent point that deserves further illumination.

It it absolutely true that most of the animals who are abandoned at shelters and pounds have been neglected for a very long time -- in some cases, years.

Imagine how old we as humans would appear if we hadn't showered or washed our hair in years? Imagine the effects of poor nutrition, lack of exercise and lack of medical or dental care on the age appearance of a human? Surely under such circumstances, we would appear far older than our actual years.

The same is true for animals.

It is indeed, a very tough job to try and gage the real age of animals arriving at Animal Control -- especially when the people turning the animals in deny ownership and claim to have found the animals as "strays." That means the shelter gets NO history or important information on the cats or dogs such as true age, behavior or breed type or mix. It is often up to inexperienced and lowly paid shelter staff to try and "put the pieces of the puzzle together" -- and as pointed out, this often results in substantial and very serious errors that can easily end up costing the cat or dog his or her life.

Almost everything boils down to subjective guess, speculation and interpretation -- guesses that are often measured upon and against years of neglect.

There are of course, some animals who appear much younger than they actually are -- my Tina, for example.

But, the animals who are loved, exercised and well cared for generally don't wind up in city pounds.

So yes, it seems that sadly, many if not in fact, most of shelter animals are often "evaluated" to be older than they actually are.

Most of the blame for this belongs with the people who owned the animals and dumped them in the shelters. -- Especially when they lie about and deny ownership.

But, I do think shelter veterinarians and other staffers seriously need to take these facts into account. If the animal appears to be in a serious state of neglect, then s/he will appear far older than s/he actually is. That is a FACT. -- Allowances need to be made for it.

It would be really nice if people (who are forced to give up a pet for whatever reason) would take the time before just dumping the dog or cat to have the animal medically tended to or groomed.

Does this sound far-fetched?

Well, believe it or not, but we rescued a Chow named "Jada" a couple of months ago, who apparently was groomed before the people dropped her off to AC&C! They also admitted ownership of Jada and left a history (what is called, "Animal Profile.")

This not only resulted in correct information on the dog, but also saved us (the rescue) the cost and time of having to do grooming and other medical care that should have been attended to by past owners.

Jada was successfully adopted mere weeks following her rescue -- something (sadly) unusual for us these days.

Jada's past owners apparently had both, the insight and sense of responsibility to attend to their dog before surrendering her to a shelter. They therefore, gave Jada the very best chance they could to help insure this dog would get out of the shelter alive and into a loving home.

If these people could do the right thing by their dog, why not others?

Perhaps that is a message that we need to get out to the public:

"If forced to give up an animal to a shelter, please attend to the pet's medical and grooming needs beforehand. Please also admit to ownership and be willing to share important information with shelter. This greatly enhances the pet's chances of being adopted to a loving and appropriate home. Failure to do these things can and often does result in needless deaths of the animals."

One wonders how many cats and dogs actually die due to neglect of these simple, but important matters and the resultant "wrong information" on them?

A very grim thought, indeed. -- PCA


Thursday, April 8, 2010

"The More Things Change......."

(Picture Left: "Manny." Memories of my dog, Tina and not at all what had been indicated to us.)

Never "ass-u-me" anything, as they say.

When pulling Manny off the Euth list about a month ago, the information on him indicated that he was an "8-year-old Pekingese mix" who arrived at the shelter with a "broken leg" and multiple bruises. He was apparently nervous in the shelter and his temperament was "questionable."

Virtually none of that fits the dog my friend, Kathy and I went to pick up yesterday from my vet.

First of all, Manny appears to be far more of a Tibetan Spaniel than a Pekingese, though its possible he is a mix of both (or other) breeds. It wouldn't surprise me if Manny was, in fact, a purebred Tibetan. But, more than questionable breed identification, it is unfathomable that anyone could have looked at Manny and determined him to be a senior dog!

Manny reminds very much of one of my dogs, Tina when I picked her up from AC&C in 1997 -- thirteen years ago.

Back then, the shelter indicated Tina to be "5-years-old" (which would make her 18 now).

She was just barely fully grown -- about a year old.

Likewise, It is hard to imagine Manny being more than two or three years of age.

It turns out that Manny did not have a "broken leg" after all.

Apparently his hip was dislocated which did require a surgical adjustment.

Manny was bouncing around last night like he was ready for doggie Olympics or a Frisbee contest!

Not at all what I expected -- or, what I told potential foster people!

Pekingese are not active breeds of dogs to begin with. And a "8-year-old" Peke with a "broken leg" conjured up the image of a dog who would barely be able to get around.

Kathy and I had a hard time just holding on to Manny yesterday. Though only 15 lbs, Manny has the vitality, enthusiasm and agility of a much younger and more active type of dog.

Walking Manny was, in fact, like trying to walk a fox! He was pulling and zig-zagging all over the streets and seemed like he could run a marathon!

Kathy, who is a long-time volunteer and rescuer in her own right, was kind enough to offer temporary foster for Manny -- at least for a few days. I wanted to get a better idea of Manny before sending him to a new foster person.

This was a wise and prudent decision, as everything told to potential new fosters was wrong -- from breed, to age, to medical condition to temperament.

Manny is an extremely gentle, gregarious, trusting and well socialized dog. I have no idea where the "questionable" temperament label at the shelter came from. If it wasn't Manny's picture on the shelter record form, I would swear he was mixed up with another dog! Almost none of the information given us turned out to be correct.

Then again, according to Animal Control records, my dog, Tina is now 18-years-old.

Most people don't believe me when I tell them Tina is 14. "She looks so young!" they say.

The problems with poor shelter evaluations and descriptions go back a long way.

It is unbelievable that a small, extremely loving, adorable,and otherwise young and healthy dog like Manny could have ended up on shelter "Euth list."

Then again, so was my Tina thirteen years ago (for "Kennel Cough.")

"The more things change, the more they remain the same." -- PCA


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Weary Kind

(Picture Left: "Ginger." Loving, devoted and "highly adoptable" Chihuahua. Nevertheless, still sitting in foster almost two months following her rescue. "Highly Adoptable?" What does it mean?)

Yesterday, I wrote about certain desires to slowly move away from animal rescue and adoptions. There are no specific reasons or incidents for these feelings.

Truth is, they are to be found in the everyday.

Yesterday, for example. A conversation with a young woman named, Jennifer:

The story begins some weeks back, when one evening I pulled an 8-year-old, Pekingese named, "Manny" off the AC&C Euth list.

Manny was on the dreaded list due to serious injury.

Though a suspected "cruelty case," the shelter could not prove any wrongdoing or intent on the part of the people who dropped Manny off as a "stray." Sure, it is always possible they found the injured Pekingese on the street. But, more likely they kicked the little dog around resulting in a severely broken leg (along with bruises). The injured leg would require surgery.

I arranged with the shelter and my vet to have Manny dropped off at the vet clinic. There, Manny would stay until such time the surgery could be performed (as well as neutering) and he was well enough to go into a foster home.

Of course my "job" then was to seek out a waiting foster home.

I discussed Manny's plight with a number of potential fosters.

The most promising however, was a young and caring woman named Jennifer living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (near the location of my vet). Proximity to my vet was important assuming the dog would have to be brought back for check-ups on the leg and/or cast removal.

Jennifer lives alone and has no other pets. She is renting her apartment from a friend who also owns the building.

Jennifer was very confident she could foster Manny. There are other dogs in the building and she was told that having a dog would be "OK", provided she first asked permission from the Landlady -- Jennifer's, "friend."

I put "friend" in quotes because yesterday, after learning Manny was well enough to leave the vet (after several weeks) and arrangements were made with Jennifer for pick-up, the landlady "friend" suddenly said, "No."

"I don't understand," I said to Jennifer. "We're talking an 8-year-old, little Pekingese here, not a wild puppy or 150 lb Rottweiler. What's the problem?"

"She's concerned the dog might pee all over the place."

"I can provide you with a cage if that is the worry. He is crated at the vet. He can't 'pee all over the place' if he is confined!"

"I know, but......"

This was a very frustrating conversation.

I could not believe anyone could say "No" to a tiny victim of suspected cruelty who simply needs temporary foster and care until an adoptive home could be found.

Then again, I should believe it.

Almost two months ago, we rescued an older, but very sweet little Chihuahua named, "Ginger" from Animal Control.

Ginger is a healthy and very loving and devoted little dog. Although there were some initial adjustments to her new foster situation (and particularly to men) Ginger has come around really well and is normally what would be considered, a "highly adoptable" dog.

But, I don't know what "highly adoptable" means anymore.

Despite Ginger being advertised on multiple Adoption sites, I have yet to receive even one decent adoption inquiry on her.

This despite the ASPCA telling the public and the media that there is some kind of "shortage" of Chihuahuas in New York City. Hence, the rationalization for a new program in which "overpopulated" Chihuahuas are sent from Los Angeles to New York City where we supposedly have waiting homes for the little dogs.

What, "waiting homes" I wonder?

I am so tired of all the lies and misrepresentations of reality to the people and the press.

And "lie" is exactly the term I used yesterday to Jennifer with reference to her landlady's initial promise that is was "OK" to have a dog provided she got permission.

"If she is not going to allow a 12 lb, older Pekingese with a broken leg into the building, what in the HELL was she going to 'give permission' to? It seems, Jennifer you were lied to."

Yes, I am very weary of all the lies and nonsense over too, too many years.

And that is, in fact, what makes me want to "run" from all this.

So much more infinitely pleasant to take photographs of animals living free from most of society's whims and hypocrisy. -- PCA


Monday, April 5, 2010

What We Do and Who We Are

(Picture left: "Tiga" -- Tiga is a victim of divorce in his former home. Neither the husband or wife could take Tiga after the split. Because he is a "Chow" mix, we were requested to take Tiga from Animal Control. Really nice and friendly dog, though a bit skittish and confused in his new circumstances. Fortunately, for Tiga, one of our most experienced and reliable fosters, Cari, was able to take him. We cannot put any more dogs into boarding.....)

I haven't been writing much in the journal lately.

That's not because we haven't done any new rescues or, as always, are seeking good homes for animals already saved and (mostly) languishing in boarding.

I think its mostly because there's not a whole lot of "new" or insightful things to say that are not already covered in the many hundreds of entries here.

Or, perhaps its because after more than 30 years in Animal Rights and Rescue/Adoptions, there is a part of me seeking to slowly unwind from this.

I'd like to experience life from a more positive and optimistic place than the constant sorrow, disappointment and stress associated with animal abandonment, rescue and placement.

Of course all of that is easier said than done.

The dozens of desperate emails of animals needing rescue still come into my computer each day, as well as the many calls from either members of the public needing help with animals or Animal Control.

So no, one cannot simply "quit" this type of work, walk away from it and march into the sunset.

I have often compared Animal Rescue and Adoptions to stepping into quicksand or a stay at the "Hotel California" as portrayed in song by the Eagles.

"You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave."

Yes, rescue is a lot like that. -- In many ways, it completely takes over one's life and identity.

I have been seeking and trying to find other parts of my "identity" over the past few months.

This perhaps explains new and burgeoning interests in things like nature and photography.

There is actually quite a beautiful world out there -- if one can ever get away from the ties, responsibilities and burdens that bind and tend to take over the waking and emotional life.

I have always had interest in photography and the arts, since I was a kid.

But, more than 90% of picture-taking over the past two decades has been animals rescued and in urgent need of placement.

There is more to life than the train of constant sorrow.

I took a number of pictures over the weekend.

But, this time the nature or cultural shots outnumbered the ones of a new dog we rescued on Saturday.

Change is slow to come, but it does come.

I think as long as there is breath and vitality in me, I will always be involved with animal rescue and placement to some degree.

But, it won't comprise my entire life and identity.

There is more to life -- and to us, than just what we "do." -- PCA